The Human Body

Fallopian Tube

Fallopian Tube, one of two ducts in female mammals leading from the ovaries to the upper part of the uterus. They are also known as oviducts. In the human female the fallopian tubes are about 2 cm (about 0.75 in) thick and 10 to 13 cm (4 to 5 in) long. As the ovum leaves the ovary it passes into the mouth of the adjoining fallopian tube and is propelled toward the uterus by hairlike projections called cilia on the inner surface of the tube. If the ovum is fertilized inside the tube, where most fertilization takes place, it usually implants in the uterus. Some fertilized ova, however, implant in the fallopian tube itself and must be surgically excised. The condition is called an ectopic pregnancy. Many cases of infertility in women are due to blocked fallopian tubes, which can result from infection, especially that which is contracted from sexually transmitted disease. Surgical severing and sealing of the fallopian tubes is a common method of preventing pregnancy. These tubes were named after their discoverer, the Italian anatomist Gabriello Fallopio. See also Reproductive System.